The Ryder Cup trophy is one of the most coveted and sought-after pieces of silverware in the sport.
Either Team USA or Team Europe will have the honour of lifting it on October 1 at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club – the 44th edition of the event.
Steve Stricker’s United States team grabbed the trophy from Europe in brutal fashion at Whistling Straits in 2021, but the trophy was first presented to the American team at Worcester Country Club, Massachusetts in 1927.
The golden trophy was commissioned by Samuel Ryder and created by Mappin & Webb for the princely sum of £250. It is 17 inches tall and has the figure of a certain player built into the top of it.
But who is this player, and why were they chosen to stand tall at the top of the Ryder Cup?
Who is on top of the Ryder Cup trophy?
The figure on top of the Ryder Cup trophy is Abe Mitchell. Mitchell was one of the most prominent figures in the game during the 1920s and was once dubbed “the finest golfer never to win The Open Championship.”
He finished in the top 10 of golf’s oldest major eight times in 17 appearances. Mitchell was a friend of Ryder and became his golf tutor. He played in three Ryder Cups and earned a record of 4-2-0.
He was appointed as the professional of North Foreland Golf Club in Kent from 1920 to 1925, a course along the coast from Royal St. George’s and Royal Cinque Ports.
Mitchell was also hailed as the “greatest striker of a ball in his era” by the press at the time.
Mitchell won the British Match Play Championship in 1919, 1920 and 1929. In 1925, he announced his intention to move to America, but he opted to stay in England to become a personal professional at The Verulam at St Albans.
He was also able to play golf tournaments and other tour golf events while still being paid a salary and his expenses.
Mitchell was employed by Ryder and his brother and they eventually set up a biennial match between professional golfers at the top of Great Britain and Ireland and America – which started with the 1927 Ryder Cup and has now become the Ryder Cup matches we see today.
The first unofficial playing of the event was at Wentworth. It was such a success that the Ryder brothers started the event and donated the trophy.
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